Unión estable de hecho

Discussion in 'Legal Terminology' started by echaucer, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. echaucer Senior Member


    I am translating unión estable de hecho in the context of an opposite sex couple who wants the State to acknowledge their cohabitation for one year. The document is going to Canada, and in this forum and in another source, I have seen the term domestic partnership or civil union. However, I have checked that these two are basically exercised by same sex partners, which is not this case. I have thought of common law partnership but it does not really convey the right meaning because the Spanish speaking world is not ruled by common law. Would it be inappropiate to state the following?

    Unión estable de hecho = domestic partnership

    Thanks and regards,
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
  2. David Senior Member

    domestic partnership and civil union are formal relationships, "solemnized" in a civil procedure of some kind, and irrelevant to your example.

    You are referring to a "permaenet informal union", "permanent cohabitation," or even "stable common law marriage" (but the latter term would only apply if the jurisdiction in which the couple lives recognized common law marriage after one year of cohabitation and the couple, in addition to living together "hold themselves out" to others to be a married couple. Any of these would be a faithfult translation of the meaning of the original, and there may be other terms out there. However, any of those I suggest, which hew closely to the meaning of the Spanish original, would be an accurate translation. If the document were mine, I would avoid, however getting into whether it is a "common law marriage" or not; that is for the authorities to decide, and stick to "permaenet informal union" or "permanent cohabitation." it is not the translator's job to determine the effect of the Spanish document on proceedings in an Anglophone jurisdiction, buit rather to reproduce what you have.

    General principles going beyond your inquiry, but I think they may be apposite.
  3. echaucer Senior Member

    Thanks for your answer. It has helped me to figure out that it is about a permanent cohabitation being solemnized by a civil authority in a somewhat formal act. Then, I would prefer to use registered domestic partneship. I do not think that it is about common law partnership because it is not only about the communicative aspect of the translation, but also, about sticking to the idea that the document is not produced in an English speaking country with different sources of law and different institutions (the sociolingusitic part of the translation).


  4. David Senior Member

    it is about a permanent cohabitation being solemnized

    Just remember that where the document is being submitted does not matter so much. The question is what was issued. If the unión was not already registered as a domestic partnership in some place where domestic partnerships exist, then it would not be a registered domestic partnership.

    it would merely be an informal permanent union. What happens in future will not be reflected in the document you are translating.

    I am sorry if I misunderstand the circumstances, but you should be cautioned not to say that there is a registered domestic partnership if that is not what the original document says.
  5. echaucer Senior Member

    Thanks for your advice.

    Indeed, there is a big push to solemnize-formalize domestic partneships, and it is what the original document says.

  6. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    The most common term in the English-speaking world is still "common-law marriage." Note that partners of such must be legally free to marry and hold themselves out as married, as David says.
  7. echaucer Senior Member


    In countries ruled by common law and it is not the case in the country where the document has been issued! My concern lies in the fact that as per what I have read, a domestic partnership is a trend in same sex unions, and in the case of my translation, the parties are of the opposite sex. However, I have read that a few opposite sex couples have registered their union in the form of a registered domestic partnership and this is what has, so far, justified my choice.

  8. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    OK, that makes sense then.
  9. David Senior Member

    I reiterate: it seems to me you are adding meaning not contained in the original document. I believe that domestic partnership would be inappropriate in the context of the document you are translating. To state that an "union estable de hecho" meets the standards for a "domestic partnership" in Canada or any other country is a conclusion of law, which no translator should ever try to supply. The document from the couple's home country says "unión estable de hecho." An "unión de hecho" is literally a "de facto union", and estable means "permanent." All the other relationships you mention are relationships recognized by law in other places. You can't say "common law marriage", because common law does not apply, and even if it did this would be a conclusion of law which no translator should insert. Whether two people living together constitutes a "common law marriage" depends on the law of that jurisdiction. I think you have to say "a permanent cohabitation" and leave it at that. To declare that that is a "domestic partnership" would be to mistranslate the document. Of course you will do as you think appropriate.
  10. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    Those are good points. It occurred to me that a permanent de facto relationship would not even necessarily involve cohabitation. Long-distance relationships are valid too.
  11. David Senior Member

    What do you mean by "long distance relationships are valid too." From the point of view of translation, we cannot possibly state what is "valid" or not. We are merely translating a document which says "union estable de hecho". The validity of such an "union" may be discussed in the document or interpreted in a court somewhere, but from the point of view of translation I suggest that an "union de hecho" is a cohabitation or "de facto relationship."

    If two people consider themselves spouses and act like spouses and tell others they are spouses, it does not matter how often they spend the night under the same roof. They have an "union de hecho." I disagree with Chaucer that it is the translator's task to tell the Canadian court what the legal implications of the term are. The job is to translate the original document as faithfully as possible into English. An "union de facto" is simply not a "domestic partnership," any more than a Peruvian "sociedad" is a "Subchapter S corporation" as defined in US law.

    Beyond that I think we are speculating about documents and context we have not read, usually not very productive.
  12. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    I was saying that "cohabitation" implied an assumption about living arrangements. And I know you don't like to ass-u-me things ;)
  13. Isabel83 New Member

    hi, I would like to know... which one is the correct form to say "union de hecho" I´m from Ecuador and here it means two people living together as a marriage, but they haven´t sign up in a civil registration, they just declare it before a public notary, so I wanted to know which one is the right one....
  14. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    In your case I think "registered domestic partnership" would work.
  15. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    I agree with David's comments in post #11. A registered domestic partnership is a term of art that has a specific meaning that is given to it by [US] statute.

    In addition, the fact that the Isabel83 says that they haven't registered under Ecuadorean law would discourage me from using "registered" as part of the translation.

    I think that "union in fact" might convey a notion of the concept while alerting the reader that it may be a legal concept that does not exist in an English-speaking country.
  16. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    "Union in fact" sounds to me like a fancy term for "common-law." A notary isn't a judge, but it's something. But you're right that this type of union doesn't exist here. Having separate civil and religious forms of marriage doesn't help either. ...
  17. robjh22 Senior Member

    U.S.A. & English
    Is this a private brawl or can anyone get into it? I suggest:

    Stable union in fact.

    It seems to me to capture exactly what we started with, plus it avoids concerns of legal inequivalence ("common law") and over-translation ("co-habitation" and "partnership").

    I know, "nobody says that here," but it doesn't matter. There are all kinds of other-than-Anglo legal institutions for which there is no equivalent in English. What do we do in any of those cases, other than try to make them reasonably comprehensible to average readers?

    Disagree with the suggested "permanent"; if the lawmakers had meant that, couldn't they have said "permanente"?
  18. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    I just don't think that conveys the idea that they stood up in front of somebody.
  19. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    This is a free-for-all. No invitation needed!

    How about "acknowledged union in fact"?
  20. robjh22 Senior Member

    U.S.A. & English

    True, but: "We don't need, no piece of paper from the Ci-ty Hall ...."

    But seriously folks, just as a common law marriage, like, say, paternity and the sale of certain property (depending on the state), often, sometimes invariably pre-dates the formalization of same, so can this "unión estable" pre-date its formalization, the "standing up in front of somebody," in some places anyway:

    Las personas que mantengan entre si una unión estable de hecho, deberán acudir a las Oficinas o Unidades de Registro Civil a los fines de manifestar tal situación al Registrador o Registradora Civil, para su inscripción en el Registro Civil.
    This (Bolivian) rule is clearly distinguishing "establishment" of the relationship from the "solemnification" or formalization of same.

    And sure, "acknowledged union" would address (I didn't say satisfy) k's point, but it isn't evident to me at all that acknowledgment is a pre-requisite anyway.​

    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  21. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    For the hispanohablantes who might not get the allusion, it is derived from a famous movie quote (from Treasure of Sierra Madre) of a line uttered by Alfonso Bedoya, a Mexican actor who achieved his greatest success in US films:

    "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges."​
  22. robjh22 Senior Member

    U.S.A. & English
    Hi Ricardo, see PM for identification of source of that line.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013

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